Feb 25, 2016 Thomas commented on Savage Love Letter of the Day: A Dog's Life.
@45 "So, I guess the questions are: if your kink poses a danger to your own life or the lives of others, can you be considered mentally fit if you pursue that kink? If you aren't mentally fit, can you consent? And for those that aren't mentally fit, what are the responsibilities of interested parties and the authorities to intervene?"

That first question is actually quite difficult. In this particular case, if everyone's being honest, I would say yes, but... where do you draw the line? How much of a danger must it pose? Some kinks could be considered "extreme sports" - inherently risky, but still something a number of people of sound mind practice, well aware of the risk. From such a perspective, risk of injury or death in and of itself can't really be used as the measure of whether a practice is sane or not (though, obviously, it can be used as a measure of whether it's *safe*). The question rather becomes whether they have a realistic idea of the risks they run, and whether you could consider their sexual actions some sort of obsessive-compulsive actions. Sexual arousal can make people do a lot of weird things they would *not* do if it wasn't for a sort of obsessive arousal pattern (i.e. it's something they wouldn't have done if it was merely something that aroused them in a "regular way").

As for the follow-up questions; if the question of consent was meant as a legal one, then I have no idea. If I knew someone was exploiting someone else and their obsessive level of kink, I would consider that akin to a sort of domestic abuse. And that, I suppose, partially answers the third question as well.
May 21, 2014 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
@28: I agree that gender reassignment surgery can't be compared to surgery that is directly life sustaining. It is more in line with surgery to fix a non-life threatening condition that still severely impacts quality of life - someone above mentioned facial reconstruction after an injury as an example. I do not know to which degree medical insurances in the US cover such surgeries, but I would hope that they generally do. Gender reassignment surgery really is quite imperative to the quality of life of many transsexuals, as far as I have gathered.
Apr 13, 2013 Thomas commented on SL Letter of the Day: Sisters & Slaves.
I agree with this answer... to a point. The disagreeance lies in the assertion that BDSM is, in essence, always just about sex. It can also be about relationship dynamics, and about trust, and safety, or that good feeling you get watching over someone you care for (depending on which side of the D/s slash you're on), and other aspects that one might call emotional or spiritual. As such, I believe that there should be a general acceptance towards people acting out such dynamics in settings outside of just the walls of their own home - to a certain point.

Of course, that is really sort of what Savage suggest here - it is common courtesy not to press ones sexuality on others, and D/s dynamics should therefore be expressed in a subtle and non-sexual way. A gay (or for that matter, straight) couple wouldn't sit at the family dinner table french kissing and fondling each other. A dominant should not feel free to sit and humiliate her slave in the same setting. Letting the sub make sure his mistress always had her glass filled, or other similar affectionate acts that can be constructed as acts of submission, should however be accepted.
Nov 28, 2012 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
As a short continuation of my previous comment (#36), as well as a comment to GermanGirl @ #35, it might be helpful for the mono/poly debate to separate desire and practice - which I'd do by using mono/polyamory for the desire, and mono/polygamy (and andry) for the practice.
Nov 28, 2012 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
Regarding the mono/poly debate:

Let me first say that technically, polyamory is not a sexual orientation, as "sexual orientation" is defined as what sex you're attracted to. I'll therefore use the "sexual identity" phrase that avast2006 so helpfully described in post #32. For the purpose of this post I define "sexual identity" as "that which is integral for your sexual-romantic happiness, or that to which you find a strong preference for in a sexual-romantic setting." Sexual orientation, per this definition, is a part of ones sexual identity, but it also encompasses other aspects.

Whether polyamory is a choice or not depends on how you define polyamory. Obviously, if you define polyamory as the act of being polyamorous, of having multiple romantic partners, then polyamory is a choice. However, if you define polyamory as the desire, possibly emotional need, for multiple sexual-romantic partners, then polyamory does not become a choice, but a sexual identity. From my discussions with polyamorous people, I think that the latter definition is the more correct one.

Whether nonmonogamy is the "natural state norm" or not, it is important to remember that nonmonogamy does not equal polyamory*. Nonmonogamy is simply to have sexual relations with several people, while polyamory implies romantic relations with several people. With people defining themselves as polyamorous feeling a desire and need for several romantic partners, I have to come out of that debate on the "not a choice" side.

*I am myself nonmonogamous, but while I do desire (and have) multiple sexual partners, I do not have a desire for multiple romantic partners. I have one girlfriend, our love is enough for me, and my other sexual partners are non-romantic. Friends with benefits, if you like.
May 7, 2011 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
@268 tiare: Actually, the system is a bit sexist, de facto if not de jure, but it's in the complete opposite direction of what JA5 talks about: Child custody. As far as I'm aware, when it comes to child custody battles, the mother is generally awarded a lot more rights than the father (though the law may well be non-gender-specific - I'm talking about actual outcomes here).

There's also a bit of a problem with the adoption thing, seeing as the mother has the possibility of not informing the father of the child, and so could adopt it away without him having a say in it, simply because he's not aware there is a child (obviously, this would generally only happen with one-night stands, etc, and I'm sure the father would often just welcome the child being adopted away, but in some cases, it might not be that way).
May 6, 2011 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
@JA5 You're looking at it all wrong. Once the child is out of the womb, assuming there's no adoption (which, if what's been said earlier here is true, requires the consent of both parents - I'm no expert on these laws in the US), it's no longer about your rights. For that matter, it's no longer about the mothers rights. It's about the CHILDS RIGHTS. You have no obligation towards the mother to pay child support, you have it towards the child. And honestly, as a man, I think you should man up and take that responsibility.

Not taking it also means lumping the cost over on the rest of society, either in the form of the state having to support the mom, or in a higher risk of the child ending up a burden to society when he/she grows older (or both).
May 6, 2011 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
@#192, Suzy: I'm pretty sure Badgirl wasn't referring to the risk of being raped when she was talking about the risks of going out in a mixed gender setting and having a drink, but rather the risks of lowered inhibitions leading to a sexual encounter that went further than you had expected and that you might regret the day after. If you and I met at a party, had several drinks, and found ourselves naked, making out and using our hands/mouths to pleasure each other, it would not be rape if you, straddling me, put my penis inside you. If I told you "no, I don't want to do this", or something like that, and you didn't immediately stop, then, yes, it would be rape (also, if you could reasonably assume that I was unable to protest, but with me having just recently been an active part in another sexual act, you wouldn't have much of a reason to believe that unless I had suddenly lost responsiveness), but a "natural progression" from making out to sexual intercourse, where both partners were active participants at least up until the point where the penis gets into the vagina, and no part shows signs of protesting, then it's not rape. It might be a bloody stupid mistake, on both parts, but it's not rape.

To say otherwise, in my opinion, is to remove agency from the potential victim, effectively telling us that women are weak little creatures that can't stand up for themselves, and need somebody else to protect them. I don't believe that. I believe women are just as capable as men of making decisions and standing up for themselves.

I'm not saying a woman who has been raped has herself to blame for it. Not at all. But if she actively participated all the way up until penetration, then didn't in any way protest this turn of events, then she is at least in part responsible. Or would you call the boy who hooked up with a girl, but just after penetrating her realizes - through the girl showing signs of discomfort or protest - that she doesn't want this, and withdraws, a rapist?

(you can of course spin all of these some way or another. If the guy is violently aggressive, and the woman fears that she by protesting will come to harm, then there's a reason for her not to protest beyond a discomfort of saying no, and so on and so forth, and that I might agree could be defined as rape)
May 5, 2011 Thomas commented on Savage Love.
Sherry, Darling (#133), she never said she wasn't on birth control. Birth control, like condoms, are not magical fairies that protect you 100 percent. And pregnancy scares are not pregnancies, and thus can happen even when the birth control is working properly. That being said, yes, lying about being on the pill is a shitty thing to do, and I believe that was actually mentioned in one of the very first comments.

When it comes to telling or not telling, my stance on the matter is that it's vastly more important to tell if you plan to keep the baby. If the woman wants an abortion, however, it's really down to what relationship I have with her. If a random lay I had got an abortion afterwards, I wouldn't really feel the need to know. If a friend with benefits did, I would, and if my girlfriend had one, I'd feel betrayed if she didn't.

And I'd like to argue that it's important to include the father of the child in the discussion about keeping it if you're thinking of keeping it, no matter what your relations are (obviously not including rape, etc). He is the father of the potential child, and just going ahead without asking his opinion is likely to cause bad blood and resentment, which could spill onto the child. If the father is included in the decision, allowed to discuss and say what he thinks (and also given the opportunity to hear why you want to keep the child), I suspect it might help the relationship between the coming child and the father. That is, involve him as early as possible, and he'll be more likely to be a good force in your childs life.
Feb 25, 2011 Thomas commented on Six Pregnancy Tests in One Week.
I would like to answer your post, havingbeenthere, from the end to the beginning. Let me preface this by stating that I am not from the US, so some of my knowledge on the subject of US culture when it comes to these things may be lacking.

First, it's not their right to exist that is being attacked. As several people have pointed out, these clinics do indeed do good in some areas, and they're supposedly an excellent resource for women who choose to keep their baby (I can't really comment on that, as I have no experience with them, but I do believe this to be true). What they are attacking is the fact that at least some of the pregnancy centers (1) operate under a sort of false flag concept, where they are not up-front about their pro-life leanings, and (2) use outdated medical/scientific studies as propaganda to scare the women visiting them away from having an abortion. If these centers gave medically correct and balanced advice, but still were adamant on their stance on abortion, they would, in my book and most but the most extreme pro-choicers, be entirely accepted. It is the deception that at least some of these centers use as a tactic to scare women away from abortion (as opposed to trying to convince them with sound arguments) that we find despicable.

The lack of use of birth control is indeed a big problem, but I don't think it's one that is directly linked to the availability of abortion. What pro-choice activists mean when they say "no women use abortion as their primary form of birth control" is that very few women thinks that way. They don't go "meh, let's not use a condom, if I get pregnant, I can just have an abortion". What they think is more along the lines of "I'm in my safe period now, I won't get pregnant" or "it's not really going to happen to me", if they think about it at all (having been on an alcohol binge or two myself, I can safely state that if you're drunk enough, you're in no state to make responsible decisions). They delude themselves into thinking they won't become pregnant, and when they discover, a couple of weeks later, that they are, they fall to abortion as their way out.

What is needed is better education about birth control, as well as having it cheaply available (which, in the case of condoms, I suppose it really is). Abstinence-only sex education leads to lack of knowledge about safe sex, and while it may well cause a slight reduction in sexual activity among teens and young adults, those that do engage in sex engage in risiker sex, leading both to more STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

As for your comments regarding christianity, I can't really say much about that, so I won't. I will say that the Bible is somewhat muddier regarding the question of abortion than what most churches tend to teach. For example, according to the mosaic laws, causing a woman to miscarry is punishable by a fine as determined by the judges (Exodus 21:22). If the woman dies, however, it's considered murder and capital punishment is to be dealt out.

In fact, there are several American churches that are pro-choice, and don't find the Bible to condemn abortion.